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Appeared on: Thursday, October 09, 2008
Inno3D iChill 9800GT


1. Features, specifications

Inno3D recently introduced an improved version of the Nvidia 9800GT graphics card featuring a custom cooling system, potentially offering higher overclocking margins. The SLI-Ready NVIDIA GeForce 9800 GT supports NVIDIA PhysX technology that brings your games to life and HybridPower for optimal power management. And with GeForce 9 Series goodness, 112 processor cores and a 256-bit frame buffer, the GPU has got the stuff for all hardcore gamers.

The Inno3D iChiLL 9800GT Twin Turbo is an improved version of Nvidia's generic 9800GT with a 700MHz core (vs 600MHz), shaders clocked at 1500MHz (vs 1500MHz) and 1000MHz  of memory (vs 900MHz) clocks. Moreover, it has 512MB of on-board memory with a 256bits of bandwidth. The shaders are not overclocked.

What is immediately noticeable is the big "Accelero Twin Turbo" cooler from Arctic Cooling. This dual-fan VGA cooler promises to reduce the temperature by 26°C and the noise levels at 0.6. It features 4 heat pipes, 30 fins and 2 PWM fans. The Accelero TWIN TURBO optimizes airflow to 40 CFM and achieves a cooling capacity of up to 120 . Together with memory and voltage regulator cooling, this new VGA cooler gives enthusiasts a very promising result – 26°C lower than the stock cooler and at the same time maximizes the overclocking potential.

Nvidia has a dedicated website that explains the improvements and benefits of the 9800GT series. The GPU of the GeForce 9800GT series is the well known G92 core, so in a sense, the 9800GT series are identical to the 8800GT series! What has been added is the HybridPower and 3-way SLI, as well as a revised 55nm G92b core for better overclockability and thermal management.

- Retail package

The Inno3D iChill 9800GT retail package follows the usual design of the Inno3D iChill products. The graphics card would cost you €140.

A sticker placed on the front side of the package includes information about the contents.

The package includes the usual for a graphics card, one D-Sub15-to-DVI converter, an S-Video cable, a power adapter and a HDTV cable. We also found a disc with the retail game of "Ghost Recon 2".

While the generic 9800GT series can be installed on a single slot, the big cooler of the Inno3D iChill 9800GT needs some more space so the card occupies two PCIE slots.

The 80mm fans are very quiet, even at full speed.

The available outputs are two DVI-D ports and one analog HDTV jack.

The graphics card should be powered from your PSU with a 6-pin adapter. A moles adapter is included in the package in case your PSU is kind of "old".

GPU-Z provides more information about the card's specifications. The GPU core runs at 700MHz, the memory is clocked at 1000MHz and the Shader's clock is set at 1500MHz.


2. Test PC, benchmarking software
- Setup

The tests were conducted in the following PC:

We run all the benchmarks under the same testbed and of course the same drivers. Many games and applications were used to evaluate each graphics card's performance. In addition we used FRAPS software to measure in game performance when needed.

DirectX 9

DirectX10


3. Testbed DirectX 9, DirectX 10
- Testbed DirectX9

For all the tests we used the default settings of3DMark05 as following:

Again we left all the default settings:

- Testbed DirectX10

We used the three built-in "Performance" and "Extreme" benchmarks in various resolutions.

We used the built-in benchmark with all the details maxed out.

We used the hocbench Crysis benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. We run the benchmark software with the details set at both "High" and "Very High" in order to find out at which resolution the game is playable.

We used the FRAMEBuffer benchmark tool for three resolutions, 1280x1024, 1680x1050 and finally 1920x1200. All the possible quality levels were set in order to get an idea of what the graphics card offer in various resolutions.

We maxed out all the visual details, including 4x AA Multisampling and of course 16x AF. We used FRAPS to record the game-in experience after recording a two minutes runout.


4. Benchmark - FutureMark Hall Of Fame

The Futuremark benchmarks have been highly discussed between gamers and reviewers. For your information we post the results from 3DMark 05, 3DMark 06 and of course the newly released 3DMark Vantage that gives you a rough idea of what can you expect from the tested graphic cards.

The Inno3D iChill 9800GT gets a rather high score at 3DMark 05 with 16097 points, easily overpassing the 8800GT series. In the 3D Mark 06 benchmark, the performance gap closes down to 141 points.

Passing to 3DMark Vantage, we have a clearer view of the card's performance at various resolutions. The Inno3D iChill 9800GT shines at all resolutions, giving a much higher performance than the 8800GT series.


5. Benchmark - Crysis (DirectX10)

Crysis is probably the de facto benchmark game since no currently sold card can have acceptable frame rates when very high quality settings are selected. All tested graphic cards offer acceptable frame rates at 1280x1024 with high quality settings enabled. The Inno3D iChill 9800GT gave a good performance with 35FPS, slightly better than the 8800GT card.

As always, setting the quality settings at "Very High" in the specific game makes it practically unplayable. The Inno3D iChill 9800GT gave just 18FPS.

Pushing resolutions even higher at 1680x1050 and 19200x1200 makes things even worse, with all the cards struggling to offer some frames. No difference between the performance of the 9800GT and the 8800GT products here.


6. Benchmark - Crysis Warhead (DirectX9, DirectX10)

A new version of the famous Crysis game was recently released. While there shouldn't be any major improvements over the original Crysis engine, "Crysis Warhead" could stress our Inno3D 9800GT card under both DirectX9 and DirectX10 rendering modes.

Below are the test results from all the possible resolutions without enabling anti-aliasing.

DX9
1280x1024
1650x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Performance
50,68
130,14
161,73
46,33
119,98
153,02
48,98
101,31
131,78
Mainstream
35,57
73,07
98,30
32,18
60,01
81,03
32,88
49,13
66,93
Gamer
24,79
38,56
53,41
21,63
30,91
42,27
17,08
25,27
33,49
Enthusiast
17,46
25,53
32,50
13,29
20,29
25,33
10,47
16,40
19,67

The 9800GT had no problems to render in the 'Performance level' as well as in the "Mainstream" level, even at the resolution of 1920x1200. The Gamer setting seems rather tough to get higher than 30FPS.

Enabling the DirectX10 has a negative impact on the produced FPS. The "Performance" level is still very easy deal, and we can say that the "Mainstream" is also possible for all the resolutions.

For the "gamer" and "Enthusiast" quality settings, you'd better either choose a lower resolution or simply add a second graphics card (SLI).

DX10
1280x1024
1650x1050
1920x1200
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Low
Average
Max
Performance
50,74
102,5
134,22
48,12
98,12
132,12
51,48
89,41
119,28
Mainstream
30,86
61,19
82,47
27,55
51,72
71,54
28,96
43,17
57,80
Gamer
2,99
30,44
42,19
9,99
26,16
34,50
1,36
19,01
28,49
Enthusiast
1,53
20,27
26,95
5,61
16,62
21,38
0,00
13,40
17,30


7. Benchmark - Company Of Heroes v1.71 (DirectX 10)

Company Of Heroes is a popular action/strategy game with many funs around the world. The game was the first to take advantage of the DirectX10 while its game physics are impressive.

We maxed out all visual details and measured the performance of each card using the game's benchmark:

At 1280x1024, the Inno3D iChill 9800GT actually gave the same performance with the 8800GT series. We could say the same for the higher 1650x1050 and 1920x1200 resolutions, since both the 9800GT/8800GT series gave almost the same results.


8. Benchmarks - Assassins Creed (DirectX 10), Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

- Assassins Creed (DirectX 10)

Assassins Creed is a new game from Ubisoft that supports the DirectX 10.1 extensions. Its graphics are highly demanding, especially when all details are maxed out. We tested the graphics cards only at the resolution of 1920x1200, since lower resolutions for the specific game are not very demanding. Using FRAPS we recorded the same fight scene and the game results presented below.

The Inno3D iChill 9800GT was slightly stronger here than the 8800GT series, although this small performance lead cannot be observed during gameplay.

- Half Life 2 Episode 2 (DirectX 9)

Half Life 2 is a first person shooter game that everybody has played and loved. The game at Episode 2 has several image quality improvements, especially with 4xAA and 16AF enabled.

The Inno3D iChill 9800GT showed good performance and again, the differences with the 8800GT series are not important.


9. Overclocking, Final words
- Overclocking

We were curious to see what would be the limits of the Inno3D 9800GT card so we fired up the usual trial-error testing procedure. We used the latest RivaTuner software and raised up the core/memory/shader frequencies until we got an error- free nine (9) round Crysis benchmark.

Graphic Card
Core
Memory
Shader
Normal
OC
Normal
OC
Normal
OC
Inno3D iChill 9800GT
700
740
1000
1092
1500
1855

The overclocking performance is improved improved if you overclock the Shaders.

We managed to squeeze more performance from the Inno3D iChill 9800GT and set the GPU core at 740MHz and memory clock at 1092MHz.

- Final words

The Inno3D iChill 9800GT is an improved version of the 9800GT series equipped with the Arctic Cooling Twin Turbo VGA cooler and featuring slightly overclocked core and memory. Provided that we are talking a mid-range graphics card of the €150 price range, the package delivered a good overall performance. On the other hand, the improved version of the G92 GPU does not seem to offer significant gains, at least compared with the 8800GT.

The graphics card will perform well even with the latest game titles, like Crysis WardHead, provided that you are using the latest graphics drivers and of course, you are not pushing the resolution. The overclocking procedure is simple, by using Riva Tuner, and the Twin Turbo cooler actually helps the graphics card to remain stable and cool.

To sum up, the Inno3D 9800GT is a decent solution for all those who need a a reliable and quiet product. On the other hand, we are not very sure that this is a future proof purchase and as such, getting a second 9800GT to perform SLI could be a good idea.



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